Killer Art

Elmer Wayne Henley has some pictures he wants you to see

Among the dozen or so pieces available for preview prior to installation of the exhibit were two black-and-white graphite drawings. One is a rather unexceptional drawing of a woman clad only in a butt-thong; the other is a portrait of skeletal supermodel Kate Moss.

The invitation to the opening features a Henley oil painting of a broken piece of pottery. In another oil, a row of sunflowers looms up in a surrealistically vibrant yellow. Also featured are a series of seascapes: pre-squall scenes of almost electrically dark green grass growing out of sand dunes -- not unlike those where some of the victims of Corrl, Brooks and Henley were crudely buried. (Perhaps the viewer shouldn't read too much into that -- Crawford says he sent Henley books and magazines for inspiration, and one of the books contained seascapes.)

Henley's collected works, which are scheduled to be on display at the gallery through February, span the last three years and, according to Henley, document his growth as an artist.

"Hopefully, people will be able to say, 'Oh, he did this one three years ago,' " Henley said on KPFT. "Hopefully, I've progressed."

Henley, who is serving six life terms in TDCJ and has been repeatedly denied parole, also mused on how his life might have turned out had he not gotten involved with Corrl. He told Hill he could see himself as a Young Republican, and he said he regretted not having been able to experience collegiate life.

In lieu of mixers at the frat house or Young Republican fundraisers, the 40-year-old Henley now envisions fulfillment as an artist.

"If this thing is even moderately successful, I'm not sure I'll ever come down out of the clouds," he recently wrote to his pen pal. "I'll never be able to show you my true appreciation for all of this .... I wish I could be there. I would be easily recognized by the swell head and embarrassed look."

Of course, the critical reaction may be altogether different. A man who paid $20,000 to buy most of Gacy's paintings at a Chicago art auction planned to burn them. Hyde Park Gallery's Larry Crawford wouldn't care if Henley's works met a similar fate.

"If they come and put cash in my hand and buy the artwork," Crawford says, "and they want to take it out in the middle of the street and burn it, I'll go down the street and buy the gasoline for them."

You'll have to forgive Walter Scott if he can't comprehend the mindset of someone so eager to turn a dollar off of Elmer Wayne Henley. Scott is the father of Mark Scott, the last victim of Henley, Brooks and Corrl to be identified, and he still lives on 25th Street in the Heights, the neighborhood where the killers found many of their victims.

Scott was outraged, to put it mildly, when he learned of Henley's show.
"That man hit my son in the side with a pipe -- he busted his ribs. They pulled off his clothes and raped him, strangled him to death and threw him in a two-foot hole out there in the boat shed. He did several boys that way.

"My God," Scott asks, "how can they do this?

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